Why Lewis Hamilton believes Mercedes should now ‘take one eye off the ball’

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton climbs into his W14. Canada June 2023

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton climbs into his W14 in the team's garage. Canada June 2023

With a second podium in two races in his heavily updated W14, Mercedes’ development path has been validated with Lewis Hamilton saying now it’s time to focus, at least “a little bit”, on next year’s car.

Mercedes, off the pace of the Red Bull, threw the dice earlier this year when they introduced a B-spec car at the Monaco Grand Prix with the team axing their zero-pods while also incorporating a new front suspension layout.

The gamble is paying off with the Brackley squad on the podium in Spain and again in Canada where Hamilton crossed the line in third place just over 14s down on race winner Max Verstappen.

That, barring Australia, was the closest Mercedes have been to the Red Bull race winner in any grand prix this season.

It bodes well for the rest of the year, although it’s fair to say this year’s championship titles are Red Bull’s to lose, such is their advantage in the standings with rivals left to target race wins.

As such Hamilton feels Mercedes already need to turn some of their focus onto next year’s car.

“It’s going to be a battle of development, I guess, over the rest of the season,” he said.

“I reckon Max’s team are already working on next year’s car, so we need to take our eye a little bit off the ball and focus on next year also but yeah, happy to be up there.”

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Hamilton’s podium result in Montreal was Mercedes’ third in total in the new and improved W14, with both drivers on the podium in Spain where Hamilton was second with George Russell third.

Asked if his car feels any different in the wake up the extensive upgrades, Hamilton replied: “In truth, it doesn’t feel a huge difference to the beginning of the year.

“There are some elements of the car which do feel different and obviously with the upgrade but it’s just simply just have a little bit more downforce on the car.

“But the characteristics of the car are very, very similar to what we had earlier on in the year and so we need to… for the future, for the next year’s car, you need to take a lot of these different things off and change them for sure.

“It’s definitely not characteristic-wise the car that’s going to be able to beat the Red Bull just yet. And so we’ve got to work on that.

“For example, it was very bumpy, this track, and I think everyone was struggling but our car was very stiff. But I think we were all struggling with the stiffness of our cars. But today was bumpy.

“I would say that’s something I dislike most about this generation of cars, right? Back in the day was smooth down the straight.”

The seven-time World Champion says he’s loving “being in the car now with the car in a better window and a bit more on the right track.

“And for us to be up there, having battles with Fernando in the Aston, and being just on the second row, it’s been great.

“And to be on the podium, two races in a row is really, really fantastic for us. We’re definitely getting closer.”

With 102 points on the board, Hamilton is in the fight for runner-up in the standings with Sergio Perez holding that down with 126 points.